Yahoo! Searches for Yodeler

Yahoo said on Thursday it would hold a nationwide search for an amateur yodeler to appear in an upcoming commercial.

The contest will feature events in eight cities, beginning with one in New York City’s Times Square tomorrow afternoon. Contestants can also submit their yodeling samples online or through a VHS tape. Professional yodelers need not apply.

To enter the Yahoo Yodel Challenge, contestants need to yodel the Yahoo “anthem,” which is mostly just a drawn-out falsetto rendition of the company’s name, in addition to a one-minute “freestyle” yodel of their choosing. Three semifinalists from each city, chosen by a panel of local celebrities, and the online/VHS entries will have their yodels featured on a Yahoo yodeling site, http://yodel.yahoo.com. Visitors will vote for a finalist from each of the eight cities and the online/VHS entries.

In addition to New York, Yahoo plans to hold yodeling casting calls in San Francisco; Kansas City, Missouri; Chicago; Seattle; Minneapolis; Los Angeles; and Austin, Texas. Acclaimed yodeler Wylie Gustafson, the voice behind the Yahoo call, will host the yodeling events.

Gustafson and Yahoo have patched up earlier differences. The country singer sued Yahoo for $5 million in April 2002, claiming copyright infringement for using his yodel beyond an agreed-upon one time back in 1996. The two parties settled their differences a week later.

The nine finalists will participate in what Yahoo bills a “national championship” in New York. The winner will appear in an upcoming Yahoo commercial and receive $10,000.

Yahoo will donate $10 to the local chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for each participant in the eight cities.

Yahoo has scaled back its advertising in recent years, concentrating more on pushing individual parts of the service. In addition to robust marketing for its HotJobs unit, Yahoo has rolled out TV campaigns for its personals service and its revamped search capability. The company skipped this year’s Super Bowl, which in year’s past featured talking dolphins and Gustafson’s telltale yodel.

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